United States' 2014 World Cup hopes hinge on opener against Ghana

US striker Jozy Altidore (L) fights for

By Bryan Zarpentine

American soccer writer Bryan Zarpentine argues the US National team world begins literally and metaphorically with Ghana at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. 

The Americans’ opening match of the World Cup will come against Ghana, the team that has knocked them out of the last two World Cups, and if they hope to get out of the dreaded Group of Death and advance to the knockout stage, they have to get a positive result against Ghana.

That doesn’t make it a must-win game, because a tie could be fine, but a loss would put their World Cup hopes in immediate peril.

The first match of a World Cup is always important, but this match is critical for the U.S. because unlike the last World Cup, they don’t have a weak opponent like Algeria waiting for them at the end of the group stage. Instead, they have European powerhouse Germany.

The U.S. could luck out if the Germans win their first two matches and have secured a spot in the knockout stage by the time they play the Americans in the third match of the group stage, as it would allow Germany to rest some of their starters and play without a lot of motivation, which would make it easier for the U.S. to get a positive result.

But that’s not a scenario that the U.S. should plan on happening. They also shouldn’t assume that they are going to be able to get any points out of its match with Germany.

The U.S. may need to find a way into the knockout stage without getting any points in their final match of the group stage, much like they did during the 2002 World Cup when they narrowly advanced despite a surprising loss to Poland in their final match of the first round. In order to do that, the U.S. must get a positive result in their opening match against Ghana; if they don’t, they will need to shock the Germans in their final match.

Despite knocking the U.S. out of the last two World Cups, the Black Stars don’t have the Americans number the way most people think they do. However, a loss to Ghana in the opening match could be an early knockout punch to the Americans’ hopes, essentially getting knocked out by the Black Stars for a third straight World Cup.

That is why the opening match is more important for the U.S. than it is for every other team in the World Cup; all of their hopes for the tournament hinge on a positive result against Ghana on June 16.

READERS COMMENTS

  1. kkknj says:

    In other words the Americans consider ghana as the weakest in their group. This is how I understand it. So beating us is their mindset from the first whistle. Over to you, Black Stars.

    • askantwi says:

      That’s where they’ll lose. Having been beaten twice, they are still prejudiced against Ghana. They’ll find out that Ghana has the best team in the group the hard way. But this time, they’ll lose by a wider margin.

    • John says:

      Why won’t they regard Ghana as the weakest be real,are we better than Germany or Portugal?Black Stars better prepare well bcos this World Cup will be a difficult one.

  2. banger says:

    JOHN I AGREE WITH U BUT IF THE COACH PUT THE TEAM TOGETHER WELL SPECIALLY THE DEFENSE.I CNT SEE ANY TEAM BEATIN US.GH HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE UNDER DOGS BUT WE ALWAYS CM ON TOP.I REALLY THINK GH WILL SHOCK THE WHOLE WORLD.THE STUPIDEST THING IS THE LATEST FIFA RANKINGS,

  3. Borborbo says:

    Fifa rankings is good for Ghana at the world. It create an underdog mindset by the opponent and that’s where the stares shine.
    All jokes aside, this opener is going to be one of tough mindset, speed, strength and skills. We may have the skills, speed and strength but the mindset is what both teams will fight for.
    We just have to believe but not only that, its all about preparation. If we can prepare well, the mindset would be won easily and the stars can sail through.
    No matter what we will need a win against the USA, draw should not be an option.

  4. johnny says:

    So how did Cape Verde top Ghana in the ranking?

  5. johnny says:

    This group is tough for Ghana. Think about it: US vs Germany in the final game; US coach vs his former assistant. Ghana better beat the US and get at least a draw with Germany and Portugal. Five points will shield Ghana into the next stage.

  6. OHENENANA says:

    Best Squad for Brazil
    Formation 4-4-1-1
    KEEPER
    A Kwarasey 16
    D Adjei 1
    S Adams 12
    CENTER BACK
    J Boye 21
    I Vorsah 15
    J Mensah 19
    J Akaminko 4
    RIGHT BACK
    S Inkoom 2
    H Afful 23
    LEFT BACK
    D Opare 13
    B Rahman 22
    CENTER MIDFIELDER
    M Essien 5
    S Muntari 11
    A Badu 6
    M Wakaso 20
    RIGHT MIDFIELDER
    A Ayew 10
    C Atsu 7
    LEFT MIDFIELDER
    K Asamoah 8
    A Adomah 17
    CENTER FORWARD
    K Boateng 9
    M Waris 14
    STRIKER
    A Gyan 3
    R Boakye 18

  7. EA1us says:

    U.S still acknowledge that MIGHTY GHANA is the boss.

  8. kuukuphilly says:

    cape Verde that showed up in the cup of nations for the first time?

  9. Kwabena says:

    Let us not make a mistake, the United States has a good team. And if we do not put our act together, they will send us packing on the very first game!

  10. Ghanaman says:

    There’s no way the Yankees can beat us…history will treble itself.